Glyn Hodges believes that AFC Wimbledon’s young players can keep rising to the challenges put in front of them, ahead of tonight’s important match against Peterborough United.
The Dons head into the last midweek home game of the season boosted by a third win in the last five league games and seeking to keep hopes alive of staying up.
Academy products Will Nightingale, Anthony Hartigan, Paul Kalambayi, and Toby Sibbick have all become regulars this season and they will be looking to play a part in Wimbledon's battle to stay in League One after an upturn in form recently.
Darren Ferguson’s men visit The Cherry Red Records Stadium with completely different aspirations from Wimbledon, as they aim to rekindle their promotion ambitions after slipping out of the play-off positions.
Below are views from both camps, plus stats, team news, and a recap of previous meetings between the two clubs.
“The young players here are hungry for information. They take on board what you are saying to them and we were delighted to get the win on Saturday. We are trying to implement a way of playing, both in and out of possession, but they are improving and taking things on board. We’ve had two clean sheets on the trot and a home win on Saturday.
“They are hungry and they want to do well. We are young at the back and Anthony Hartigan in midfield is a young player too. They’ve been put into the deep end with the situation we are in. It’s all hands to the pump, but I think they are doing great. When the boys have been asked questions, they’ve responded well.
“Probably the biggest disappointment since we came in is that the team haven’t been too good at home. We’ve probably been a little nervous at home, things haven’t gone our way, and we’ve been better away from home, but after this weekend hopefully that’s changed. We have a big game coming up. There are little things we ask the players to do and they are learning. I think they are giving everything for us. It’s a good group and hopefully we have enough to stay up.
“They know how important it is, they know we’ve got a three-game week. We obviously won on Saturday and we have Peterborough on Tuesday, followed by Southend on Saturday, so it’s a big week. We’ve got off to a great start and hopefully we can capitalise on the two games coming up.”
“Every game that we play now is a difficult game because teams are fighting for vital points at either end of the table. Wimbledon have improved since they changed their formation to three at the back and they had a good win at the weekend. I may look to freshen up the team, we have good options particularly in attacking areas.
“The opportunity is there for us. Not just tonight, but in the remaining 11 matches. We are within touching distance and it’s all to play for still. It’s all about consistency now and we haven’t had that for several months. Whoever becomes consistent in the last couple of months will get that last play-off slot and we must make sure it is us.
“We didn’t play well enough at Bradford on Saturday, but now it’s about how we react. Everyone loses games, but the best teams and the successful teams bounce back to form straight away. I’m glad we have another game straight away so we can get the Bradford match out of our system.
“There are different ways to lose a game and that wasn’t a nice way after we dominated possession, but then fell apart after conceding the first goal. It will be tough tonight. Wimbledon, like Bradford, are fighting for their lives and they comfortably beat Doncaster at the weekend, but it’s a game we can win providing we play to our best. We need to implement in matches what we work hard on in training.”
Rod McDonald could be in contention after being out with a groin injury and Steve Seddon is fine after ending Saturday’s game with a hamstring strain. However, tonight’s game will come too soon for Kwesi Appiah’s return.
Peterborough are without the services of defender Josh Knight and midfielder Siriki Dembele but both players are back on the training ground and making good progress from their injuries. Neither will be available for tonight's game.
Form guide (last six in all competitions, starting with most recent)
AFC Wimbledon WDLWLW
Last time out
AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Doncaster
Bradford 3-1 Peterborough
Peterborough 1-0 Wimbledon (27 November 2018)
A goal on the hour from Marcus Maddison secured a narrow victory for Posh. The Dons had defended resiliently for long spells at The ABAX Stadium, but there was not enough attacking trust at the other end to earn a share of the spoils.
Peterborough 1-1 Wimbledon (24 February 2018)
A goal in the 74th minute from Lyle Taylor appeared to put The Dons on track for all three points, but Marcus Maddison levelled matters with 10 minutes to go and that’s the way it stayed.
Wimbledon 2-2 Peterborough (12 November 2017)
Lyle Taylor struck after just 40 seconds in front of the TV cameras, but goals from Danny Lloyd and Marcus Maddison put Peterborough in front. Cody McDonald equalised before the break and all the goals came in the first-half.
We still have terrace tickets available for tonight’s game. You can either buy in advance from our online ticket shop until 3.45 pm this afternoon (collection from the white ticket booth, next to the DT Kiosk), or pay on the night. All tickets ordered before Thursday 7 March will have been posted out, but if ordered after this date they will be available to pick-up from the collection point mentioned above.